Yachting Safari: The World’s Living Wonders

The world’s oceans provide endless opportunities for adventurous sailors wanting a thrilling wildlife-spotting, yachting safari around the globe. Whether you choose to dive into the waters or stay onboard, there is an abundance of exciting wildlife species to spot out at sea. Simply pick a continent and plot your sailing course out into the blue.

Yachting safari

Extraordinary Yachting Safari Hot Spots


Yachting safari – California sea lions in the Sea of Cortez

California sea lions in the Sea of Cortez

Sea of Cortez

A good place to start your adventure is the Sea of Cortez. Once labelled “the world’s aquarium” by 20th-century French explorer Jacques Cousteau, this sheltered slip of ocean separates the Mexican mainland from the narrow Baja Peninsula and each spring, whales — humpback, blue, sperm and fin – come to give birth, nurse their calves and feed in these warm, krill-rich waters alongside dolphins, California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals. In vast numbers — estimated at 25,000 — the grey whales migrate northwards from the coast of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, passing Vancouver around March or April. This marks the beginning of Canada’s whale watching season, which runs until October — don’t miss the star attraction, the orcas, in late summer: the Johnstone Strait, a channel along the north east coast of Vancouver Island, is home to a 200-strong resident pod (one of the largest anywhere), as well as Pacific white-sided dolphins, harbour porpoises and seals.


Yachting safari – Orcas in Canada

Orcas in Canada


South Africa’s Western Cape

Other top whale sighting hotspots include South Africa’s Western Cape, where Southern right whales and humpbacks can be seen from May onwards.


Yachting safari


Disko Bay in Greenland

Visit Disko Bay to witness the wonders of bowheads — one of the few whale species that lives almost exclusively in the Arctic — with numbers exceeding than 1,500 in the springtime.

The Bahamas

Elsewhere in the world, the shallow reefs around the Bimini Islands in the Bahamas are a snorkeller’s dream — head to Orange Cay for the best chance of coming mask to fin with a spotted dolphin.


Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Of course, no yachting safari would be complete without a trip to Australia’s legendary Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site and the only living thing on earth visible from space.


Yachting safari – The Great Barrier Reef from above

The Great Barrier Reef from above


Yachting safari – A marine Iguana in the Galapagos Islands

A marine Iguana in the Galapagos Islands


The Galapagos Islands

There are all kinds of incredible marine animals to be seen on the Galapagos Islands. Look out for the inquisitive barking Galapagos sea lions that loll about on the rocky shores, with newborn pups in abundance between March and May, or head to Genovesa or Santiago Islands to see the Galapagos fur seals. There are also 24 species of whales and dolphin in the waters here, especially between Isabela and Fernandina Islands, plus four species of sea turtles and marine iguanas.

European Yachting Safari Hotspots

Those looking for yachting safari hotspots a little closer to home can stay in Europe, which has a surprising number of places where yachters can get up close to magnificent marine mammals. From playful dolphins and Minke whales around the Isle of Mull in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides to giant female sperm whales spyhopping around the Azores, there are plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife at sea — if you know where to look.

Yachting safari


The Ligurian Sea

The Ligurian Sea — a stretch of Mediterranean from northwest Italy to Tuscany — is a natural habitat for fin whales, sperm whales and several dolphin species, including striped, bottlenose and deep-water-loving Risso’s, the latter unmistakable with their distinctive scars caused by their favourite food, squid.


Yachting safari – A dolphin in the Gulf of Taranto

A dolphin in the Gulf of Taranto


Gulf of Taranto

South of the Ligurian Sea, the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea is another popular playground for dolphins, which can often be seen swimming alongside boats.

Spanish Waters

In Spain, Tarifa might be best known by water sports enthusiasts as a haven for kite surfing and windsurfing, but during the summer, this coastal town is also renowned for the killer whales that follow the tuna migration into the Mediterranean — the tuna are usually too fast for them so they’ll synchronise their hunting with the fishing boats, staying close to try and catch their dinner straight from the hooks. Dolphins and pilot whales can also be seen throughout the year, while sperm whales usually appear from April to August, popping up at the surface to breathe for around eight-minute stretches before disappearing back into the deep.


Yachting safari – Tarifa is a hotspot for Kite and Wind surfers

Tarifa is a hotspot for Kite and Wind surfers

Yachting Safari Hotspots in the Western Pacific

Yachting safari

The Coral Triangle

For more amazing marine life, set a compass for the coral triangle in the western Pacific, which covers the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. Unsurprisingly perhaps, it’s named after the 600 species of coral that are found here (75% of the world’s total number), but there are also more than 2,000 types of reef fish and six species of turtle, plus whales, dolphins, dugongs and whale sharks — in other words, it’s a snorkelling, diving, and yachting safari paradise.


The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands consist of more than 900 islands, many of them remote — and that means pristine corals and the likelihood of having these dazzling underwater displays to yourself, with excellent visibility all year round. Top sites include the vertical walls and drop-offs at Mary Island, the large saltwater Marovo Lagoon for blacktip reef sharks and the coral gardens of the Russell Islands.


Yachting safari – The Marovo lagoon in the Solomon Islands

The Marovo lagoon in the Solomon Islands


Yachting safari – Manta Point in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park

Manta Point in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park


Indonesia’s Komodo National Park

In Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, there’s the possibility of swimming with rays, schools of grouper and hawksbill turtles at Pink Beach, while Turtle City is a well-known haven for green sea turtles. Float above them and observe the cleaning stations, where cleaner fish peck off algae from their shells. There’s also Manta Point, renowned for its resident fleet of mantas that rise to the surface in the morning to feed on the plankton trapped in the shallows, and Batu Balong, a rocky island with a diverse reef just below the surface.


Papua New Guinea

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, notable spots include Milne Bay or Walindi FeBrina at Kimbe Bay, where snorkellers are likely to see everything from barracuda and dogtooth tuna to whale sharks. At Tufi in Cape Nelson, drift along among countless tropical reef fish and turtles.


Yachting safari – A Whale Shark in West Papua

A Whale Shark in West Papua

Bird Spotting on your Yachting Safari

Yachting safari

A yachting safari is not just about the wonders beneath the water line…. where there is an abundance of cetaceans, you can be sure that an array of birds won’t be too far behind. Keen birders may want to coincide a sailing along the Strait of Gibraltar with the migration of seabirds to and from Europe and Africa, which happens every spring and autumn. The vegetation on the Rock provides a momentary resting point for many species that pause to feed before continuing on their flight. Head to the narrowest point and keep eyes peeled for huge flocks of birds such as black kites, white storks, booted eagles and honey buzzards, all of which soar overhead in the thousands. There are also smaller numbers of sparrowhawks, ospreys and Griffon vultures.

The Galapagos archipelago, meanwhile, has plenty of bird nesting action, particularly between April and May. Look up to see the pretty Darwin’s Finches, of which there are 13 species endemic to the islands. There are blue-footed and red-footed boobies in abundance — notable for their distinctive mating ritual that involves dancing and pointing their beaks towards the sky — and the astonishing waved albatross: the largest in the Galapagos, it spends January to March at sea before nesting at Española Island. There are also Galapagos penguins, Galapagos greater flamingos and two types of frigatebirds — the magnificent frigatebird and the great frigatebird — which inflate their red neck pouches like a balloon when trying to attract a mate. For those wishing to experience unforgettable wildlife sightings on their yachting safari, The Galapagos Islands are an obvious choice!

Discover more destinations to visit or contact us today to plan your bespoke itinerary.

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